AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House of Representatives is set to vote on an election reform bill that many groups are dubbing a "voter suppression" bill. Meanwhile, those who support the bill say it's about "election integrity."
House Bill 6's authors say it is "an act relating to election integrity and preservation of the purity of the ballot box through the prevention of fraud in the conduct of an election; increasing criminal penalties; creating criminal offenses."
HB 6 does numerous things to change the voting process, including banning county leaders from proactively sending out mail-in voter applications to registered voters, as was done in Harris County in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also requires people who assist disabled voters to identify why the person needs help and gives more latitude to poll watchers.
Republicans have made voter reform bills a priority this session, saying it will help improve voter integrity and increase voter confidence. But opponents say the bill goes too far because it creates a criminal offense, and they argue the actual intent is to suppress voters. Some opponents of the bill say it disproportionately impacts young, disabled and Black and Hispanic Texans.
Members of the House are debating the election reform bill May 6.
Before the House vote, Democratic lawmakers met outside the Texas State Capitol to voice their opposition to the bill. Congressman Joaquín Castro (D-TX-20; Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35); House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie); State Rep. Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth); Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Elections Jessica González (D-Dallas); and Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa met on the south steps.
The Democratic legislators said passage of the bill would impose on Texas exercising their right to vote in future elections.
HB 6's companion bill, Senate Bill 7, has not yet been voted on. The similar bill would create a criminal offense and provide for civil penalties for election fraud.
Texas This Week: Discussing 'election integrity' bills
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